Jul 20, 1:02 PM EDT

Fewer Americans applied for jobless aid last week, as the number of people seeking benefits remains near historic lows indicating a robust job market. The Labor Department says weekly unemployment claims fell 15,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 233,000.

AP Photo
AP Photo/LM Otero

Multimedia
A district summary of the Beige Book
Measuring economic stress by county nationwide
Mall malaise: shoppers browse, but don't buy
Unemployment by the numbers
Family struggles with father's unemployment
Saying an affordable goodbye
Hard times hit small car dealer
Latest Economic News
Spain's economic minister says the economy is doing better than the government expected as it continues to rebound strongly from recession

European Central Bank head Mario Draghi does his best to give no clear signal about the eventual withdrawal of a massive bond-purchase stimulus program, lest markets overreact

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi says the bank needs "persistence" and "patience in keeping the current stimulus in place"

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi says that measures of inflation "remain overall at subdued levels," adding that means the 19 country eurozone needs continuing monetary stimulus

The European Central Bank leaves its interest rate benchmarks and policy statement unchanged, underlining its unwillingness to roil markets with premature signals about an exit from its stimulus efforts

Official figures show that retail sales in Britain bounced back during June, with the warm weather bolstering clothing sales in particular

ADB growth forecasts for developing Asia upgraded on stronger export demand from China

Japan central bank keeps monetary stimulus intact, downgrades inflation outlook

Shame Cersei, you lost your food supply: Game of Thrones confronts resource shortages

Official figures show that inflation in Britain unexpectedly fell in the year to June, a development that's likely to ease market expectations that the Bank of England will raise interest rates soon

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fewer Americans applied for jobless aid last week, as the number of people seeking benefits stayed near historic lows, pointing to a robust job market.

THE NUMBERS: Weekly unemployment applications fell by 15,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 233,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the largest weekly drop since late April. The less volatile four-week average declined by 2,250 to 243,750. The number of people collecting unemployment benefits has fallen 9.7 percent over the past 12 months to 1.87 million.

THE TAKEAWAY: The job market appears solid as the U.S. enters its ninth year of recovery from the Great Recession. Employers are holding onto workers with the expectation that business will continue to improve. Jobless claims - a close indication of layoffs - have come in below 300,000 for 124 weeks in a row. That's the longest such stretch since 1970, when the U.S. population was much smaller.

KEY DRIVERS: After a weak start this year, the economy is expected to grow at roughly 2 percent. That would be roughly in line with annual gains during the recovery. Consistent hiring has helped sustain the gradual recovery, although the expansion is starting to show its age as the pace of job gains has slowed this year.

The unemployment rate has fallen to a healthy 4.4 percent. The Labor Department's report for June showed that U.S. employers added a robust 222,000 jobs, the most in four months and a reassuring sign that businesses may be confident enough to keep hiring despite a slow-growing economy.

© 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.